SFA Goes Toe-to-Toe With Ninth-Ranked Nicholls in Southland Opener

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Poised to keep the momentum rolling after sophomore quarterback Trae Self connected with junior tight end Allen Arclies III on a 10-yard touchdown strike that pulled the SFA football team within five points on ninth-ranked Nicholls, the ‘Jacks found themselves unable to convert a key fourth down with 6:21 left and the Colonels responded by scoring the final 14 points of the game to come up with a 48-30 Southland Conference victory Saturday night at Homer Bryce Stadium. 

A back-and-forth first half gave way to a defensive-oriented second, but the Colonels’ superiority in the run game allowed them to grab the upper hand. Nicholls amassed 291 yards on the ground while SFA picked up just 58. 

First Quarter
• Setting the tone in front of his home faithful, Self orchestrated an 84-yard scoring drive on the game’s opening position to hand the home team its lone lead of the night. The sophomore completed passes of 19 yards to Lar’Darion Cobb and 28 yards to Xavier Gipson during the downfield march before racing 21 yards into the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of 2019. 
• From there, however, Nicholls possessed the ball for but five plays in order to gain the upper hand. During their seven-play, 77-yard drive to tie the game, Chase Fourcade connected with Stefano Guarisco three times for 24 yards to keep the chains moving before Julien Gums bowled in from 21 yards out to make matters 7-7. 

Second Quarter
• Completing a lengthy drive that started with 5:55 to go in the first, Fourcade hooked up with Guarisco from 14 yards out on the second play of the quarter to put the Colonels in front 14-7. Nicholls’ 98-yard drive put the visitors in front for good. 
• A pair of field goals from Storm Ruiz – one from 21 yards out and another from 22 yards – cut the Colonels’ lead to 14-13 before Nicholls’ run game showed how potent it can be. Through a seven-play, 75-yard drive, the Colonels ripped off five runs of 10 or more yards and went up 21-13 when Jeremy Rounds pushed his way in from four yards out with 5:14 left in the half. 
• The ‘Jacks wasted little time in responding as Self found Gipson in stride for a 47-yard touchdown less than one minute later. Gipson’s first collegiate touchdown cut the Colonels’ lead to 21-20 before another ground-based drive by the Colonels made it an eight-point game once again. 
• Fifty of the yards during the Colonels’ 75-yard drive came on the ground including Gums’ nine-yard touchdown sprint with 1:20 remaining which pushed Nicholls’ lead back to eight, 28-20.

Third Quarter
• Upon getting the ball to begin the second half, the Colonels kept it on the ground again in order to increase their lead. 
• Fourcade did the majority of the damage during Nicholls’ seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive by racing for 34 yards on his own. The quarterback’s 19-yard touchdown scamper hiked his squad’s lead to 34-23 and was also the only scoring play of the third for either team. 

Fourth Quarter
• On their second drive of the quarter, the ‘Jacks needed only three plays to get right back in it. Self lofted a 45-yard gainer to Calvin Clater to put SFA at the Colonels’ 10 before completing the quick scoring drive with a 10-yard floater to Arciles in the corner of the endzone. 
• Having trimmed the Colonels’ lead to five, 35-30, SFA’s defense gave its offense another chance in quick fashion. Gerard McKnight and Amad Murray stopped Fourcade on a third-and-four, setting up Romello Bentley’s 21-yard punt return that put SFA in prime territory at its own 48.
• Unfortunately, on a fourth-and-one play, Cam Arnold was stopped by Allen Pittman just one yard shy of a fresh set of downs to give the ball back to the Colonels.
• Fourcade put the game on ice from there, capping a six-play, 57-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown scamper. Another four-and-out by SFA was followed up with a four-yard touchdown run by Gums with 1:54 to go that accounted for the final score. 

Key Performers/Statistics of Note
• Self enjoyed a fine game through the air, amassing an SFA career-high 354 yards to go along with a pair of touchdown strikes. Ten different SFA players hauled in passes from Self including Clater who finished with a game-high 80 receiving yards. 
• Gipson (two receptions, 75 yards, one touchdown) and Arclies III (five receptions, 58 yards, one touchdown) were two more of Self’s favorite targets and each latched on to their first collegiate touchdown reception in the setback. 
• Gums paced the Colonels’ rushing attack, going for 136 yards and a trio of touchdown runs. Fourcade, who accumulated just 145 yards through the air, let his legs do most of the work as he ran for 59 yards and a pair of scores. In all, Nicholls amassed 291 yards on the ground and finished with a 436-414 edge in total yards. 
• Freshman Trevon Johnson came up with his first collegiate sack in the setback while Gavin Roland paced SFA’s defense with a spectacular 17-tackle performance. Trenton Gordon finished with 10 stops while Willie Roberts snared his first collegiate interception. 

Coming up Next
• SFA hits the road for its first Southland Conference showdown of 2019 away from Nacogdoches. Saturday night at 6:00 p.m., Provost Umphry Stadium in Beaumont, Texas will serve as the backdrop as the ‘Jacks battle Lamar on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. 


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